These are some snapshots of what Jeff Ross supports as a community activist for your neighborhood including initiatives he supports right now.
Jeff will fight against threats to progress that have been made to close gaps in health outcomes, wealth, and opportunity that flow from unequal housing choices. As one community advocate stated a an Egleston Square Neighborhood Association meeting this winter, "the best way to end homelessness is to house folks." It couldn't be said better. With over 800 vacant affordable units in the city of Boston Jeff will work with the city to do better in family placement, advocate for a practice of audit and oversight within the annual housing certification process to ensure fairness and transparency. Jeff will work with colleagues on the council to formulate new neighborhood-income based AMI (area median income) models based on neighborhoods and eliminate the practice of relying on federal AMI guidelines while keeping in mind the economic vitality required to encourage and sustain building and renewal of housing stock. Jeff will work to create new regulations for the development of workforce housing and explore union involvement and local funding of such projects to create workforce housing and expand the availability of income restricted units.
Jeff believes in quality public education for all. Students and parents must be at the center of policy making decisions and a panacea of involvement of all stakeholders is core to the success of public education in Boston. In education we must address a holistic approach to the needs of each child. As a father of two, Jeff understands that social and emotional wellness, transportation, housing and economic opportunity as well as public safety and increasing resources is the key to a student's success. Jeff will fight for wrap-around services such as ESL, support to address special needs, learning disorders, trauma counseling and full-time school nurses as well as mental health professionals within the school system. It's time we reassess the per-student funding formulas and lean on the state to fully fund charters. Jeff supports increased assessments on Uber and Lyft rides originating in the city ($2 a ride would provide $70M in new revenue per year) to fund building and services improvements to meet the city's education needs.
Mobility of Boston's future. During the current period of growth and economic development, Jeff will work as your city councilor with the City of Boston and its professional community of designers, planners, developers and fellow policy makers to advance a vision of the city's transport future, including holding public engagement initiatives to explore the needs and goals of local communities. More recently, Boston 2024 has proposed key infrastructure projects such as extension of the Emerald Necklace, upgrades to the Green and Red Lines, and the demonstration of a Boston-Quincy ferry service that may jump start conversations about new transportation alternatives. New developments must include the consideration of creative solutions to transportation such as a gondola from South Boston to South Station, increasing transit ridership, and evaluate the impact transportation has on environmental degradation across in Boston. Jeff will champion regional multimodality by working toward new safety solutions including improvements and expansion of bike paths and access to bicycles as well as green solutions to progress on carbon neutrality such as expanded EV charging stations. We can ensure that all of our neighborhoods have access to safe, active modes of transportation and Jeff will champion increased investments in synthesized network hubs, including subways, walking and biking infrastructure, and gold standard bus rapid transit (e.g. dedicated right of way, busway alignment, off-board fare collection, intersection treatments, and platform level boarding).
We must hire more officers, and invest in a state of the art police academy to keep our communities safe. I've always supported maintaining the four minute response time for our emergency response teams because Boston lives depend on the strength and expertise of our dedicated firefighters. I will hold hearings and meet with stakeholders to keep the procurement staff connected to those on the front lines to make sure we have the protective gear and equipment needed to keep our first responders and Boston safe.
Buildings contribute to over half of greenhouse gas emissions in the City of Boston. Addressing buildings' energy efficiency is the first step to combating climate change. Jeff supports Councilor Matt O'Malley's Net Zero Carbon initiative, and will pitch in to support the continued development implementation of Councilor O'Malley's robust plan developed with elected officials, advocates, academic experts, developers, lawyers, and architects.
Healthy Affordable Food
Too many residents in Boston live in “food deserts” and Jeff has been a long time advocate for access to healthy affordable food. In 2014, a lauded group of concerned citizens got together and started daily table to address the lack access to local produce and healthy meals within walking distance within neighborhoods. Jeff will advocate for city tax credits, friendly zoning and grants to expand access to healthy food options in senior communities like Charlestown and Keystone which will not only reduce health disparities, but ease the transportation burdens in under served areas of our city, and incentivize smaller retail markets to sell healthy and affordable foods. Everyone deserves access to affordable and healthy foods, no matter where you live.
Farm to Table Initiatives. For many children, school is the only source of access to food. Jeff supports expanded access to healthy local foods in schools through farm to table initiatives while boosting economic opportunities for family farmers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Ensuring the success of projects like Boston Public Market, and local community markets supports sustainable agriculture and encourages participation for a broader range of beginning, veteran, and socially disadvantaged farmers.
Hold Boston’s Biggest and Wealthiest Nonprofits Accountable
Payment In Lieu Of Taxes, or PILOT program — in which Boston asks its biggest and wealthiest nonprofits to make voluntary contributions to the city according to the value of property they own.
In fiscal year 2018, reports show the city took in less than $34 million in contributions for PILOT programs or less that 75% of requests. Each year, too many of the largest and wealthiest nonprofits decline to continue amounts requested. A total of 47 private institutions from the educational, medical, and cultural sector own tax-exempt property in excess of the $15 million threshold established in the PILOT guidelines, including major universities like Harvard, Boston University, Boston College, and Northeastern; and major hospitals like Beth Israel Deaconess and Mass General Hospital — own and occupy billions of dollars worth of property in Boston alone.
Transparency and Reporting: Jeff supports a nearing order on to start a community process as to whether all big education nonprofits to submit reports to the City each year detailing what "community benefits," are in fact inured residents of our community. Currently 10 such institutions decline to report what benefits or residents are receiving from these large institutions.
Update Valuations and Hold Big Institutions Accountable: Jeff supports increasing the city's requests for payments and community benefits, as well as further discussion as to whether the requests be re-formulated to reflect current property valuations instead of antiquated values. Harvard continues institutional expansion, acquiring more and more property that falls off of city tax rolls and Northeastern contributes only 13% of that requested.
Stands with Residents: Jeff supports residents that want to reverse the trend of increasingly fewer institutions paying their requested amount since these institutions hold billions in endowments, have millions in surplus revenue and paid more this year in hedge fund management fees than they pay to the city in PILOTs.
Neighborhood quality of life
Jeff pledges to support funding for critical South End, Back Bay, and Fenway infrastructure, including regular funding of the Boston Groundwater Trust. For housing stability in these areas, historic wells must be regularly cleaned and a regular monitoring and reporting groundwater levels must be maintained. In other neighborhoods, by deed restrictions or zoning reform, corner commercial units across neighborhoods should exclude banks and be zoned for commercial use which extends the vitality of central business districts to beyond the hours of a typical work day.
As the building and progress continues in the city, and as proposed buildings get taller and taller, Jeff supports the likes of H. 2129. to limit the ability of new structures to negatively impact sunlight in our great neighborhood parks keeping in mind the benefits of setbacks, building height and roof and lot coverage restrictions. Jeff will work closely with community groups and developers to protect our quality of life.
Community Preservation Act
Mayor Walsh and the city’s community preservation committee have recommended 56 projects, with a combined expected cost of $34 million, to be included in the Community Preservation Act’s fall funding round. The slate of projects includes $5 million citywide to buy existing apartments and permanently restrict them as affordable housing, as well as $3.8 million to fund a Boston Home Center program that will assist first-time homebuyers. The Community Preservation Act, which Boston voters passed in November 2016, charges a 1 percent surcharge on property taxes and allocates the money toward open space, historic preservation and affordable housing. The city has awarded CPA funding for projects in each of Boston’s 23 neighborhoods since the act’s adoption. As city councilor, Jeff looks forward to continuing to use this revenue to build to create more affordable housing, support historic preservation and preserve open space.